Off-the-shelf orthotics (often called “arch supports” or “prefabricated orthotics”) are non-custom devices designed to provide gentle support to the arch of the foot and help spread weight more evenly along the bottom of the foot. They are not as supportive as well-made custom orthotics but they can work well for a lot of people at less cost then custom. Prefabricated orthotics can be found in retail stores, doctors offices and online.
There are many different arch supports on the market. Like everything else, some are better than others. And one brand might work well for your feet while another brand works well for your friend’s feet. Quality off-the-shelf orthotics usually cost $40.00 – $70.00.
Our Recommendations for Over-the-counter Arch Supports
We have evaluated many of the arch supports on the market and carry some high-quality OTC supports in our office and in our online store at www.FootAnkleStore.com. We also have found a supportive flip-flop sandal that incorporates an arch support.
The arch supports below are the ones we recommend most often to our patients.
Best OTC Orthotics for Athletic and Walking shoes
We recommend the FootChair Medical Grade Orthotic with adjustable arch height.For lace-up shoes this arch support is the most supportive and the best choice for heel pain, arch pain, ball-of-foot pain and big toe joint pain. These OTC orthotics incorporate many features otherwise found only in custom orthotics at about 10% of the cost.
A unique feature of the FootChair orthotics is that the arch height is adjustable via pads that can be added into a pocket under the cover. This gives you the ability to maximize the support and comfort of the orthotics.
We can also modify these in our clinic to make them work even better for your specific foot problem.
Best For Smaller Shoes such as Soccer Cleats, Bike Shoes or Women’s Causal Shoes, Men’s Dress Shoes
Our most recommended device is the PowerStep 3/4 length Orthotic which has excellent arch and heel support and are available in the $40 range. While these fit in a wide variety of shoes, they won’t fit in women’s flats or pumps. You can find orthotics for women’s dress shoes here and below.
Best Arch Support Sandals and Slippers
For times when you don’t want to wear shoes, the Vionic flip-flops, sandals and slippers offer exceptional arch support. These are by far the best sandals we have found for people with foot pain including plantar fasciitis and ball-of-foot pain.
Best OTC Orthotic for People with Wide or Flat Feet
For people with wide or flat feet, the PowerStep Wide Full Length Orthotics are the widest prefabricated orthotics we have found (and people with flat feet tend to have wide feet). If you have a foot above a D width, you may want to give these a try. If your feet are extremely wide, however, custom orthotics are usually a better option. We also recommend this arch support for people with flat feet as flat feet tend to splay excessively as they flatten making most OTC orthotics too narrow.
Best for Women’s Dress Shoes, Including High Heels and Flats
For high heels and flats the Powerstep SlenderFit Fashion orthotic provides the best dress shoe support we have found in a prefabricated orthotic that will fit in women’s dress shoes
Arch Supports to Avoid
There are several arch supports that we think you should avoid because they are either not very supportive or don’t offer good value.
First, avoid any arch supports that are recommended by a “foot mapping computer”. These “arch support machines” are simply sales tools. For the most part the arch supports that are recomended are very flimsy and are far too expensive. You can learn detailed information about these types of arch supports and the “foot mapping units” here.
There are some shoe stores that advertise heavily on radio and TV selling what they call “custom fit orthotics”. These are not custom orthotics and are simply over-the-counter arch supports – but they charge well over $100 for them. Don’t get ripped off – avoid these places at all costs. You should never spend more than $70 for any arch support unless it is a custom orthotic made by a medical professional. We have detailed information and a review of these heavily advertised arch supports here.